I recently bought a new laptop to be used for scientific research when I'm at home. The machine has Intel i7 processor with 8 cores, 4 GB of RAM, and a graphic card from Nvidia (2 GB, Ivy Bridge). The programs I need most for computing are MATLAB and Python.
I tried to installed Ubuntu (versions 12.10 and 13.04) and they were both slow. When MATLAB uses 1 core 100%, the entire OS just freezes. Cannot do anything at the same time. Also, the graphic card is clearly not used to its full potential (I either use optirun or give the DRI_PRIME flag when starting programs) and not used at all by Unity.
Would some other OS be better than Ubuntu for my purposes? Also, how could I dedicate few cores to the OS, few to MATLAB/Python and a few for other programs (Chrome, Messaging, LaTeX etc.)
(I asked this question before in http://serverfault.com/questions/508264/best-linux-distribution-for-scientific-computing, however, it was pointed out it was the wrong site).